By Jim Gimian
In a two-hour ceremony which continually invoked the vision and practical guidance of its founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Naropa University formally installed Charles G. Lief as its eleventh President on Saturday, February 16, 2013.
Chuck, as he was referred to by many of the wide variety of presenters, wasted no time in setting out an ambitious agenda for both Naropa’s stability and its expansion. Instead of the oft-quoted hundred-year timeframe for completing the full original vision for Naropa, Lief referred to the 1974 meeting where Trungpa Rinpoche had made this proclamation and said, “I was there, I heard ‘five hundred’ years. I’m President, so five hundred years it is.” Lief added to a room filled with laughter, “I’m very happy to have that extra time.”
The ceremony’s theme of a “Celebration of the Arts” provided the backbone for the alternately warm, funny, intimate, and formal occasion. From the dulcet honks of the Scottish bagpipe to the chimes of Balinese gamelan; from the relentless insights of accomplished poet Anne Waldman to the self-taught strumming of guitarist Shevek Majors Peer; from the blue-jean clad undergrads to the greyhaired trustees, the rich and diverse mix of worlds that is the Naropa University cauldron was on full display.